LC 2008 Planning Retreat Agenda and Location

Agenda for LC 2008 Planning Retreat

1. Context – Ken (30 min)

2. Reflection on the year (45 min)
Class evaluations (Moni)
Summary of PG blog (Chris)
Other feedback (all)

3. Curriculum concepts (1 hour)
What do we need to highlight more?
What are the bigger stories, analogies, examples, and/or conceptual connections that would help people to integrate the concepts (vs. maintaining those islands of understanding)?
How do we link the big picture to lived experience?

4. Program Delivery/Structure (1 hour)
Given our discussions so far, what aspects of program delivery or structure should we consider shifting? (Why?)

5. Other Learning Opportunities (1 hour)
Capacity building – PG and guides

6. Program Group Structure (1 hour)
How can we structure the PG so that there are different types of opportunities and levels of engagement available?
How would everyone like to contribute?

7. Guides – Role, expectations, support (30 min)

8. Wrap up
Next steps
August meeting date

Leadership Calgary Planning Retreat Details

Date: Sunday, July 22

Time: 9:30 am – evening (we plan to have a BBQ at 5 pm)

Place: Varsity Towers, 4603 Varsity Dr NW – go to the door marked as the main entrance and the concierge will let you in

Telephone: if you get lost and need directions, please call Moni at 560-5394

Parking: there is some visitor parking directly in front of the building and street parking along Varsity Drive

Food: lunch, snacks, evening BBQ will be provided – please bring your own wine, etc.

After the planning portion of the day is over, we play to have a BBQ (beef & veggie burgers). There is a pool and hot tub available for our use – please bring bathing suit and towel if interested – showers, lockers, shampoo & body wash are available.

Elizabeth will be sending out an agenda beforehand, as well as a list of questions for you to think about to prepare for the discussion.

** Please RSVP with Tracy to confirm your attendance.

Finding Heart in the Workplace

I remember wondering then as I do now, “Who do I want to be when I grow up?” A thousand years ago, this was a simple question. We do what our parents did. But today, there is a greater possibility of choice and nowhere is the struggle of making this choice more evident than in the workplace.

When I use to work at a telecommunications company, I found great pleasure, on most days, working with others to design and test complex systems. I also had the freedom to pursue my own community projects or coaching initiatives. On other days, however, I questioned whether I was making any difference. I felt instinctively that my contributions were insignificant in the machinery of the corporation.

Later I realized that all around me I saw family, friends, and clients who were also searching for meaning or fulfillment in what they did. Some found it. Some gave up. Others are still looking. According to research (The Art of Happiness at Work by Howard C. Cutler), it does not seem that any one particular occupation has the monopoly on fulfillment.

What is the source of this searching?

A Disappointed Dream

From here, I delve into speculations. Perhaps it starts with a disappointed dream. Our childhood dreams are often surprised by the weight of reality. We hoped to change the world, but find ourselves stuck in an office job. We wanted to become an inventor, but we end up maintaining other people’s inventions. We desire for the job we imagined it would be rather than what it actually is.

Another possibility is that there is also a growing uneasiness with the impact of the corporations that we work for. Certainly the creative power of a company is unrivaled. Consider that the building of a single cellphone tower involves the coordination of thousands of designers, manufacturers, managers, accountants, and a million lines of code that no one person understands. Many can do what one cannot.

Nevertheless, corporations are a recent invention as a legal entity. We are still trying to understand its role. What if the disconnect is between the corporate life purpose and the individual life purpose? A hundred thousand years ago we started a fire in a little cave and today it burns so hotly it may end up consuming the globe. We are haunted by the question, “What if what we do has no meaning? What if what we do is making things worse?”

The Intersection of Dreams and Reality

Fortunately, the intersection of dreams and reality is a place of great possibility. Should we choose to, the workplace can be that place.

This is my long route around to considering the question of finding “heart” in the workplace. When I talk about heart, I mean it in the Old English definition which refers not just to our feelings, but also all of our faculties, our intellect, and our intuition. Finding heart in the workplace refers then to finding an integration of our “self” as an individual as well as our “self” as a humanity within our role in the economy.

My dream is that all people find meaning in their lives that releases their potential in the noblest and wisest way possible. I do not believe this because it is my job… it is everyone’s job! I believe it because we have no other way of preserving the incredible beauty that we see around us… our children, our landscape, and even our clever technologies. Our collective effort is needed. Our collective heart is needed.

Who we are going to be when we grow up is of utmost importance because when when we step into the workplace, it is as if we check ourselves at the door and say that we are now a different person. In David Whyte’s book, The Heart Aroused, he says, “By leaving the magnificence of the world outside the door, we also leave any desire to really live in the world.” One of my roles as a life coach is to help people fling open the door to the magnificence of the world outside and therefore re-discover their own magnificence.

This is much harder than it sounds. Creating true value and meaning takes patience, persistence, awareness, and courage. In the workplace, that could mean retraining for a different job, challenging the existing culture, recreating relationships, or even leaving the workplace behind. Reaching towards fulfillment involves stepping outside where we are comfortable. Whyte comments, “Most of the actual prisons we inhabit we have chosen and furnished ourselves.”

Stepping Outside

I took a step outside when I saw Romeo Dallaire in person and wept tears of frustration hearing how hundreds of thousands died in Rwanda while I remained ignorant in high school. It did not take me long to run back inside so that I could continue to ignore the harsh lessons that a genocide might teach. But eventually I could not ignore it. I had no choice but to ask myself, “How do I align my job with more meaning?”

I am not saying that I have the answer. I am only trying to help people be conscious of their higher selves and to act on it in their workplace. Thus rather than let the past or current circumstances drive our actions, we choose to live by what is most important and needed.

A business is meant to serve the community, to provide a service or a product. To forget that is to forget its connection to its own heart. If heart is to be brought back into the workplace, then there may be some hard questions that have to be asked. Every company has to remember that it is part of a larger world. If there are not people who tell the tales of the outside world, then the company will find itself more and more disconnected.

Chris Hsiung BSc. CPCC
HUMAN Venture Coaching

Chris Hsiung graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary in Electrical Engineering. He is a certified professional coach through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). He is learning, teaching, presenting curriculum through Leadership Calgary. Currently he runs a practice (U Venture) guiding and coaching professionals who are choosing to engage in pioneering life challenges.

The Training Grind

In the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee said “Training is one of the most neglected phases in athletics. Too much time is given to the development of skill and too little to the development of the individual for participation.” What does a martial artist turned movie star have to say about our life pursuits? It turns out a lot… for people who seek to perform at a high level.

It is easy to recognize well-trained elite athletes. These athletes move with a grace and ease that unfortunately belies the incredible amount of coaching and training behind it. Consequently, we underestimate the effort required to tackle a new life project. Somehow we expect that changing careers or overcoming years of self-defeating chatter can be done instantly.

The gap between who we want to be and who we are is often the “training grind”. In boxing, it’s spending hours in the gym skipping rope, running, hitting the heavy bag. In a career change, it’s spending hours reading books, taking courses, researching for new positions. The attribute of being able to patiently and persistently do what it takes despite how tough it feels is a key characteristic of any individual seeking success.

More critical than doing the training is the way in which training is done. In badminton, I spent ten years practicing with an improper grip which severely limited my ability to generate power in my shots. As one of my instructors quipped, “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Every person needs a means of checking, verifying, and improving their training.

Athletics training is more easily understood because it is visible and concrete. But its concepts are as readily applicable to training the way in which we think or feel. For example, one client wanted to develop greater compassion. The training in this case was practicing it with people in day to day life. Checking the training involved reflecting on the client’s behaviour and finding out the impact of actions taken.

In addition to doing training and being aware of how training is done, progression is another key aspect of training. Elite athletes are continuously pushing the limits of their ability. By constantly operating at the edge of their competency, they learn to develop ever greater abilities. Likewise, we must be willing to risk failing by tackling larger and larger challenges. The reward is an ever increasing ability to shape our lives and choose our future.

Although training seems difficult or tedious, in the long-run it is enormously satisfying. Runners talk about a runner’s high. The seasoned learner sees each moment as another opportunity to think and act better than before. Training becomes a way of life. As Bruce Lee said, “Training deals not with an object, but with the human spirit and human emotions. It takes intellect and judgment to handle such delicate qualities as these.”

Chris Hsiung BSc. ACC
U Venture

Chris Hsiung graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary in Electrical Engineering. He is an internationally certified professional coach through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). He is learning, teaching, presenting curriculum through Leadership Calgary. Currently he runs a practice (U Venture) guiding and coaching professionals who are choosing to engage in pioneering life challenges

Have you thanked humanity lately?

One of the curses of having worked in the software industry is that everything starts looking like it could be explained by a block diagram.

So as I sit in this moment wanting to express something about humanity, I find an urge to draw a diagram… starting with what’s right in front of me: my laptop and my parents.

What I want to illustrate is the thanks that I have for those that have helped me get to where I am now.

This is just a small fragment of the people that have contributed to who I am today. It leaves me with the inescapable conclusion that “I” as an individual am also part of a “we”.

I surprise myself some days where I imagine myself as this completely independent being. This is ridiculous of course. I depend on humanity as I depend on the Earth.

It can be daunting to imagine that I am a part of such a large system, but it is also profoundly empowering. Humanity has already learned many lessons… some more than once and others that have yet to be learned. And Earth, it has learned even more lessons than humanity!

What is so incredible is that we, unlike any other time in history, have access to these lessons whether it is in objects, in books, in art, in films, or in every mountain, forest, or ocean we encounter. Should we step beyond the borders of our own limited individual lives, we may find a far more real world to live in.

Being a part of this world then puts our individual contributions in context. Emerson reminded us that we should be Man Thinking and not “a mere thinker, or, still worse, the parrot of other men’s thinking” (see Emerson’s The American Scholar). Thus farmers provide food, businessmen create a service or product, and engineers design things for the benefit of humanity. To forget this is to be a small man.

So I for one want to thank my fellow human beings and the Earth for providing, and I renew my pledge to do the best I can to help humanity and Earth.

Chris Hsiung BSc. CPCC
U Venture

Chris Hsiung graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary in Electrical Engineering. He is a certified professional coach through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). He is learning, teaching, presenting curriculum through Leadership Calgary. Currently he runs a practice (U Venture) guiding and coaching professionals who are choosing to engage in significant life challenges.